Abstract We report the discovery of 45 high-velocity extreme horizontal branch (EHB) stars in the globular cluster Omega Centauri (NGC 5139). The tangential velocities of these EHB stars are determined to be in the range 93~313 km s−1, with an average uncertainty of ~27 km s−1. The central escape velocity of the cluster is determined to be in the range 60~105 km s−1. These EHB stars are significantly more concentrated toward the cluster core compared with other cluster members. The formation mechanisms of these EHB stars are discussed. Our conclusions can be summarized as follows: (1) A comparison of the tangential velocities of these EHB stars to the central escape velocity of the cluster shows that most if not all of these EHB stars are unbound to the cluster; (2) These EHB stars obtained high velocities in the central cluster region no longer than ~1 Myr ago and may be subsequently ejected from the cluster in the next ~1 Myr; (3) If the progenitors of these EHB stars were single stars, then they may have experienced a fast mass-loss process. If the progenitors were in close binaries, then they may have formed through disruptions by the intermediate-mass black hole in the cluster center.
Keywords Galaxy: globular clusters: individual: ω Cen (NGC 5139) — stars: Hertzsprung–Russell and C–M diagrams — stars: kinematics and dynamics — stars: binaries (including multiple): close
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